Honda HRR216VXA ---- Review

like_my_yard(Central NC.)June 27, 2006

I have used the Honda HRR216VXA for 4 months. IMO this is the results.

The positive side: It mulches very well, doesn't feel bulky, easy to manuver around obstacles, easy to start.An excellant mower for "busy" lawns.

The negative side: The drive system can be hard to adjust to, difficult to maintain a steady speed on long sections. Not the perfect mower for large open lawns.


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There is also a recall comming out for the BBC engagement control and Honda will be sending out a letter explaning the problem and how to get the part replaced with an improved design control. Otherwise I love my VXA!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 10:26AM
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Hello all. I have seen the Honda HRR216VXA at Home Depot. I really don't need another mower but....if the Honda HRR216VXA had the GCV190 OHC/OHV upgrade, then I might roll with it.

The GCV160 OHC/OHV is a reliable engine also.

Good day.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 3:47AM
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I just purchased this model about a week ago. Used it 2x's. Works great. I agree that it is easy to manuver, easy to start, and it does mulch very well. I tried bagging yesterday. Worked OK. Only comment is that some of the clippings tend to collect in the upper left corner of the mower in front of the bag. Is there any adjustment to the way the bag sits on the mower? BTW, ramdude12, is this "recall" public notice?


    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 5:31PM
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I am considering the Honda HRR216vxa and the LB 10685. Home Depot is selling the LB for $329 and the Honda for $499. Honda has some nice features for the additional price but the LB also seems very user friendly. My concern is the speed control on the Honda which has some negative feedback on this and other forums. Also I have seen at least 3 returns of the Honda at Home Depot. Home Depot is selling the return HRR216VXA's for $399 which is a good price for a very slightly used Honda. Any advice on the drive controls of these 2 mowers and also mulching and bagging performance.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 9:38PM
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At first I was usure about the VXA's Smart Drive. But after using it twice now, it works well. Easy enough to use it with one hand. My local HD store had 2 of these as returns, but, they told me they were both used by senior women. They were reselling these for $450. As far as cutting, mulching is excellent, bags really well too, except for some of the clippings that collect in the upper left hand corner of the mower in front of the bag. Got this to replace my Honda HR215SX. Had it for 11 years. Worked great until about 2 weeks ago-transmission went down. Looked at a couple of Toros but chose the Honda for the quality and performance.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 11:24PM
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like_my_yard(Central NC.)

I don't know the area that you guys live in. The Home Depot where I live sells the reconditioned VXA's for $324.00. Every piece of reconditioned equipment they sell is 30 to 40% off the new price That's how I bought mine, plus I used a $20.00 coupon to get it for $304.00.

A year and a half ago I bought a reconditioned HRX217HXA for $475.00. It had never cut a blade of grass. The L&G manager said a man had bought it for his 75 year old mother. She told him to take it back to the D&%* store and get a "regular" lawn mower. Who could resist not buying that one? LOL

It takes a few times of mowing your yard to get accustomed to the drive system. After using it a few times I really like mine now.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 8:58AM
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How does your VXA model compare to the HXA in cutting, bagging and overall user satisfaction ?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 9:21PM
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earthworm(6 Pennsylvania)

IMO, the Honda is OK, but not great. The "Smart" drive system need refinement, is now too vague at first, then the mower takes off. I think some adjustment would help..
I hate any mowers "dead man's control", I now use a section of wire to tie down the blade control, this makes things a bit easier...
So I am now comparing the Honda .....VXA with the Murray-Scott and other mowers I have owned.
The Honda , considering the inflation over the last 50 years, is less expensive than the first one - a brand X with a magnesium deck ! Light and easy to push, but not good otherwise...this was the infancy of rotary lawnmowers..
Maybe a Lawn-Boy will be next....but I doubt this - getting too old...

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 5:06PM
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nevada_walrus(Boulder City)

rono7, Honda mails similar recall notices to both dealers and mower owners, providing the mower was properly registered. If you bought it at HD it may not have been registered as they intentionally drag their feet so if something is returned they can re-sell it with new warranty.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:44AM
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I just purchased this mower (see my other post) and have used it once. The mower seems to work fine, although the drive system is a little weird, but functional... I have my doubts about a pressure activated system over a long period of usage, but I guess they have to try and innovate... My main issue was with the bagger... A LOT of dust was pushed through the bag, and in turn all over me while mowing. Also the grass was leaking out the sides of the top of the bagger which is supposed to be sealed by plastic flaps on the bag frame... Not sure if mine is defective, or misaligned, but the bag is way too porous is my opinion for a $500 mower. My old Sears with a Honda engine did NOT do this... and cost a LOT less... I'm still undecided if I want to keep this mower as expensive as it was. I usually only use the bagger in the Fall, but this system is just not good enough AFAIK for the money... My Sears mower was lost by the idiots at Sears unfortunately, which started me on this quest to fine a replacement... Darn tough to find a smartly engineered, well made product these days... I'd almost say mowers are not engineers, and engineers are not mowers! Some of this stuff is so obvious, you'd think they never used a lawn mower before...

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 9:25AM
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dhrose...sears "lost" your mower...PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE elaborate

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 1:33PM
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earthworm(6 Pennsylvania)

The Honda bag, IMO, is NOT a good precise fit, as it was for the old K-Mart mower and the newer Scott-Murray.
I do not know about the dust, however, but the bag must "breathe". Lawn mowing is not a clean job, nor should it be...

I must agree with you, Dhrose, engineer/designers of today seem to know nothing of what they are doing.. Their main task is to design something to be a cheap as possible, yet not look it.....GM and Ford have this problem...

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 3:00PM
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Long story, but... I took my one year old Craftsmen/Honda powered self propelled in because the rear wheel drive stopped working (a consistant problem with this handlebar mounted hand/pull system)... I dropped it off at the local Sears store and was told: it would be fixed in 8-10 days. Two weeks later I was told it had been repaired, and was being shipped back to me... A week later, still no mower, at which point I went to the store and told them I had been contacted and informed my mower should be there?? Still no mower, and no response from the store... At this point my lawn hadn't been mowed in 3 weeks, and needless to say that's not a good thing in my neighborhood! So I was really getting angry at this point! I finally demanded they give me another mower, or produce mine and was told they couldn't get authorization to do this... at this point, I refused to leave the store without a mower!! Pretty incredible, eh? The WORST customer service situation I've ever been involved with. So they finally gave me the only mower they had in the store with a Honda engine (not the model I had) but it was one of the high-tunnel baggers, and they didn't have the bag!! So to get the hell out of there, I just took it and figured I'd worry about the bag later, and use it as a mulcher... Well come to find out the bag cost $100. and nobody seemed to be able to get one... So Now I had A mower, but without even the same capabilities of the one I lost! O.K. you're thinking it can't get any worse?? There's more... I went to a different Sears store, told them the whole story, and they said: Wow! We're sorry, but that store has had a lot of problems and they said we may have one of those bags in the back... Lo and behold (my luck could be changing?) they came out from the back with a brand new bag for that model! Wow... I was thinking, o.k. this may have a happy ending after all! Well... guess what? I take the bag home, hook it up to the mower, head out to the front yard... The drive goes out on the new mower! Yes, I'm not kidding! So, now imagine me sending another mower back to Sears repair, and them (repair center) looking at the tag and seeing my name again! Ha Ha! (They have a 2 page history in their computer of my story) and I'm still getting the automated call from the repair center to come pick up my mower! (Idiots!) Which makes me wonder now, if I'll be getting 2 automated messages to come pick up my mower... Only difference being I sent this to the Sears service center, NOT to the store! Folks, I'm not making this up... It really did happen, which led me to buy the Honda, thinking I'd sell the Sears when it comes back from repair (IF it comes back)... I have to say, one of the most frustrating aspects of this whole experience has been trying to get through the mind-numbing Sears voice response system, with the computer generated women/android asking: "O.K. now what do you want to do"... "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that"... "well that's because your not human, and you wouldn't... ARGHHHHH! ...Welcome to life in the 21st century folks!

I'll let you know what happens... the uh, Final Solution! or resolution as the case may be!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:54PM
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earthworm(6 Pennsylvania)

Every time I go to Sears, and this is NOT that often, I see more salesmen standing around gassing with each other than I see customers..

I do not know how much longer this can go on...Eventually Sears will be out of business....
It is much better to avoid the big box stores and do business with the little local stores, but they have some troubles as well - such as closing down on the 3rd of July...

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 1:47PM
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wow entertaing story..sorry for your troubles. On thr bright side, you got a Honda mower...

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 2:18PM
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I just bought the HRR216VXA and used it once. The quality of the cut and the bagging is very good. I like the speed control lever and found it easy to use.

I have some reservations about the bag itself which doesnt seal too well against the mower and it is quite porous allowing dust to come out the back. I guess I should be mowing grass and not dirt

The rubber flap at the back of the mower sometimes makes it hard to pull the mower back, especially at the lower wheel settings.

The blade brake clutch seems to release too easily with very little movement of the engagement bail. This may just be an adjustment.

The mower seem to be well built and I have no problems with the engine. Overall I like it but I hope I can adjust the BBC release point

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 2:43AM
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I called Honda to ask if my "refurbished" Home Depot Honda HRR216vxa was covered under the Honda 2 year warranty and if I was eligible for the 3rd year warranty extension. The answer was yes for the 2 year warranty and yes for the 3rd year as long as the first buyer hadn't registered the mower before returning it.

The mower I got appears to have never been used as it is clean as new under the deck as well as the bag, etc.

I asked about the BBC upgrade and was told that an improved BBC lever will be available soon to fix the disconnect problem.

Also, an improved speed control will also become available which will reduce the forces necessary to set and maintain ground speed.

Both of these improvments will be covered under warranty at an authorized Honda Service dealer.

With these 2 upgrades this mower should be just about perfect!!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 3:39AM
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Where did you find out about the BBC and speed control upgrade. There is nothing about this on the Honda Power site.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 9:07PM
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I called Honda Customer Service @ 770-497-6400 and talked to a customer service person ... I believe I chose option 8 on the phone menu or waited for a person to answer. In any case she told me about the BBC issue and volunteered there was also a speed control change because some people had complained about the control forces on the thumbs. Over all, I believe with these changes the mower will be really nice to use and I know it does a good job cutting and bagging.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 9:50PM
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"If you bought it at HD it may not have been registered as they intentionally drag their feet so if something is returned they can re-sell it with new warranty."

The registry of a product is not the responsibility of is that of the customer. Re-selling a mower with a "new" warranty does not happen. All reconditioned equipment at HD comes with a 90 day warranty - 30 days to return, the next 60 for repair. People spewing bad information because "their brother in law heard from somebody that used to know somebody that worked at HD...etc." is irresponsible. That being said, there have been some problems with the blade clutch on that mower...some are fine, some disengage VERY easily to the point of not being able to use them. I PRAY that Honda comes up with a fix, because it is a good mower othewise.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 12:34AM
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I called Honda about the 3rd year warranty from Honda on my "refurbished" HRR216VXA from HD. The Honda rep looked up the serial number of my mower and it had not been previously registered so I registered the mower in my name and got the additional year of warranty.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 2:44AM
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I called Honda Customer Support yesterday about the upgrades reported by Huskyfan2006. They did tell me the same info. I asked if Honda will be sending a notification to all registered owners; they told me that the dealer where it was purchased would contact me. So, I called my local dealer to find out details; Store rep didn't know much about it. Have to call back Monday to speak with the service rep.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 11:40AM
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I've been using my HRR216VXA for about 3 months. This is my first Honda mower, and my first mower that cost more than $200. I am less than impressed.

The overall fit and finish of the mower is great. It feels solid and well built. The oversized wheels with bearings are a nice touch. It feels much sturdier than any of the other mowers I compared it too.

The engine starts and runs reliably, however it feels underpowered.

The Smart Drive system works fine, but it's tiring on the hands and wrists. My wife has a hard time using it.

The bag is too pourous and doesn't fit the mower well. Lots of grass clippings escape through the bag and around the front of the bag.

The mulching plug doesn't fit the mower well. Grass blows around the plug, fills the cavity behind the plug and eventually spills out and leaves a trail behind the mower. When I get done mowing I have at least a gallon of clippings to deal with. My temporary fix is sealing the plug to the uderside of the deck with duct tape.

I'm not overly impressed with the cut of this mower. Due to the escaping grass clippings it always tracks. I've also noticed that in thick grass I can't lower the deck one setting with out bogging down the mower.

My comparisons are based on the $200 Craftsman mower I previously owned. For the price difference with the Honda, I'm dissapointed. I guess I set my expectations too high. At least with the Honda I look good mowing, weather the grass does or not.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 5:28PM
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Stopped by my local Honda dealer this morning to inquire about the BBC and drive system upgrades. They told me they have received no information yet from Honda. Anybody actually have this done or scheduled to have it done?


    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 10:20AM
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I called a Honda dealer today and they have the info of the BBC fix. They said they can get the parts in a day or so and can do the work whenever I bring the mower to them. The fix involves changing something under the deck.

The dealer hasn't received the info about the Smart Drive upgrade yet but expects to know fairly soon.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 4:16AM
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earthworm(6 Pennsylvania)

This is all most interesting, and I concur with most of what is written.
The Honda Smart Drive does not, IMO, work that well,its action is very sloppy... Maybe upgrades would improve it ??

The blade control (BBC) disengages too easily - should have a lock on position.
The bag fit is unbelievably poor, the worst I have ever encountered, and I am comparing the $530 Honda 216VXA to Murray and K-Mart cheapies...
The engine and engine controls are superior..
"Powered by Honda" is a plus...
Overall I am disappointed and will return the VXA to HD.
Home Depot is NOT a good place to buy a mower and other things ......

HD agrees that the bag frame was mis-constructed, but claims that they cannot secure another one, so I will have to return the entire mower... Such stupidity !!

Now I will have to find a lawn mower dealer who is still open, or maybe I will try K-Mart - but they have really slipped in the past 20 years , a shame.....
Consumers Report should test their mowers on my so-called lawn... Its more like a battlefield ! All the weaknesses will be bared.....
50 years of lawn mower ownership, the latest is not that good, not worth the $530.... Seems as if Honda is still learning how to design a good mower...

The first was $75, a magnesium deck, light and easy to push, NOT durable, no bag, no "Smart-Drive", no BBC ( a plus !), no adjustable handle(nice feature), no padded hand grips, no mulching, no electronic easy start, no plastic, no self-propelled, I miss it.....

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 12:00PM
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I bought my "refurbished" HRR216VXA at HD for $399 and I had 30 days to return it if necessary. The mower I got looked like it just came out of the box, not a scratch and there were no grass stains under the deck or in the chute. I don't believe the first buyer even used it. The serial number was newer than the mowers on display, built within the last month.

The BBC does disengage if you relax the bail about an inch which is too sensitive. I hope the update will fix this issue.

The bag is quite porous which is good for picking up the grass but dust comes through the bag. The bag didn't fit perfectly on one side so I bent the bag frame a little to fix it.

I got the 3 year warranty from Honda and any Honda service dealer will work on it so I don't see why buying from HD is a problem. In fact when I called Customer Care at Honda they told me if any service dealer didn't want to work on my mower because I didn't buy it from them, they would like to know the name of the dealer.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 10:48PM
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earthworm(6 Pennsylvania)

HD may now have two or three "refurbed" Honda VXA mowers at their store on the Miracle Mile..Mine is one of them, the primarily problem is the bag fit, poor in design, poor in execution, and poor in the material used, as too much dust escapes...

This should be a known problem by now, but Honda has not yet addressed it.

The BBC and Smart drive need to be improved - overall, Honda should stick to engines only.
A Poulan ,and others,can be purchased with a Honda engine..
Overall HD has treated me OK, their hours of operation are much, much better than the equipment shops...

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 2:21PM
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I'm glad to hear that I'm not being to overly critical. I've even debated trying to return my mower, although I've had it for several months. I get more and more frustrated everytime I mow. It makes a bad job even worse.

Another problem I have found is the air cleaner housing. It is very flimsy and ill fitting. I have to secure the cover with zip ties and I still find more grass and dust behind the filter than I would like to see. Anyone else have this problem?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 2:50PM
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I have no problem with the air filter housing. It is very easy to remove and the filter fits very well. No dust or debris behind the filter after mowing in dusty conditions.

I agree the bag is too porous allowing dust to escape out all sides of the bag. The bag is very easy to remove and fits well enough after I tweaked the frame to get a better fit. The frame is sturdy but the two legs that sit on the mower are of different lengths making the bag sit cockeyed on the mower.

The rubber flap behing the mower sometimes drags on the ground when backing up so I am thinking of trimming the flap a little or curling the lower edge a little.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 6:37PM
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earthworm(6 Pennsylvania)

Backspur, the Honda VXA bag may well be as messed up as mine was.
I would definitely return it and demand one that has been correctly welded. The boy at HomeDepot admitted that the lawn mower bag frames are poorly made; but HD had no spares and refused on order any ; so I returned the entire mower.
Everyone should do this, the manufacturers may then "get the message".
But I doubt it...
BTW, in the future there may be but one huge manufacturer, then we are really stuck with junk...

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 9:32PM
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Any updates on the BBC and drive system upgrades? Anyone actually have this done?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 6:15PM
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Having worked on the front end at The Home Depot for 2-1/2 years, I feel qualified to comment on their "Reconditioned" (or recon) warranties. All reconditioned equipment comes with full manufacturers warranty, as if it was brand new.

Regarding the mower: there always seemed to be 2 or 3 Honda HRR216VXA's sitting on the recon line out front. Having gone through one Honda (lasted me 12 years and STILL runs like a champ - damn deck cracked ... xenoy sucks) I was set on getting another, but wanted a metal deck this time. I inquired about the consistent number of these on the recon line, and it was sluffed off, so I bought one.

The speed control I'm ok with, but my thumbs ARE tired after an hours worth of mowing. I normally bag the front yard and mulch the back (grows much thicker up front), and I can vouch for the poor fit of the bag against the mower frame. I may try bending the bag frame as suggested to see if I can get a better fit.

My Roto Stop finally crapped out on me - it just wont stay engaged, so I have to rubber strap it to keep the blade engaged. A call to American Honda proved fruitless, as they referred me to a local dealer. The dealer did admit to a high number of tickets on this mower.

On a good note, it always starts on the first pull (as does my 12 year old still) and is lightweight, meaning it maneuvers great when free-wheeling.

Home Depot will only accept gas powered equipment back in the first 30 days, and after that it is sent "Out For Repair". I may try dealing with a manager, making him fully aware of what a lemon this thing is, and try to spring for a full refund - hey, what can it hurt?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 2:28PM
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The bag frame can easily be tweaked to make the bag fit tightly against the frame. The two down arms of the frame that sit in the brackets can be bent fore or aft to make the sides fit snugly against the frame. What I don't know how to fix is making the bag less porous to slow down the dust that can escape from the bag.

There is now a dealer update to fix the BBC disconnect issue. I haven't had it done yet, so I don't know how well the fix works.

I talked to Honda Customer service several times and found them polite and they told me about the BBC fix and also a speed control change to put less pressure on the thumbs and allow the palms of the hand to maintain the speed. The fixes are all covered by the 3 year warranty.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 1:47AM
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earthworm(6 Pennsylvania)

I have found the Lawn Boy bag to be as porous as the Honda bag - no surprise if they all use the same material..The Honda bag setup is pathetic, as compared to those of Lawn Boy, Scott, and K-Mart, and Snapper..
This and the so-called Smart Drive (which is NOT) turned me away from Honda, even as good as the twin blade(mulching) and the engine are...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 8:02AM
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Spoke to Honda customer support again yesterday about the upgrades. I was informed that registered owners will be notified directly by Honda sometime in September via mail about the Smart Drive upgrade. The uprade is designed to reduce the amount of pressure needed to engage the drive system, making it les stressful on the thumb pads. The BBC fix is apparently not a widespread notice. If your mower disengages prematurely, the dealer will make necessary adjustments.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 9:35AM
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In the beginning my Roto Stop worked flawlessly. After a couple of uses it began to disengage prematurely. Now, with 7.43 hours on it, it will not stay engaged at all - I must engage it, then strap the Roto Stop handle to the bar to keep it engaged (not a good practice when bagging).

The Smart Drive issue exists but is minor imho. Yes, my thumbs are tired after an hours worth of mowing, and I guess it would be difficult for an elderly lady or weaker person to mow a large yard this way, but honestly, if your yard's that big, you need a rider or a tractor, or a lawn service.

The bag frame I will try to adjust as suggested above. The bag itself is much more porous than the one that came off my 12 year old Honda, and as already noted the mulching plug doesn't seal itself well at all.

There's just to many shortcomings on this model. As much as I hate upgrading to a Xenoy deck and paying an additional $100 to $200, I feel it would be a long haul with this model, and I doubt it'll last 12 years like my last one. I'm going to try and return it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 11:43AM
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depot said "...if your yard's that big, you need a rider or a tractor, or a lawn service."

Well maybe, maybe not. A mower should be comfortable to use irregardless of the size of the area its used on. I mowed a field yesterday with a residential walk behind Toro that has bail control SP. Took about 2 hours 15 minutes (not including a few short breaks) and I must've walked 5 miles! My hands never got tired, though. In fact, I had a very enjoyable time getting some much needed exercize.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 10:24AM
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Yesterday I was successful in getting a full refund on mine. I turned around and bought a HRX217TDA and love it.

Good luck guys - you'll need it.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 3:37PM
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What features of the HRX217TDA do you prefer over the HRR216VXA ? Is it mainly how the bag fits, how you control the speed or the BBC issue on the VXA? Both mowers have the twin blades and a similar engine.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 10:06PM
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  1. The bag fits tight as a glove
  2. I much prefer the 3 speed lever setup over the Smart Drive
  3. the Versiflow absolutely OWNS (no more pluging the hole and infinitely adjustable between bag/mulch)
  4. the Xenoy deck is much quieter and gives you a more solid feel.

Only thing I will miss is the blade stop - it's a pain to yank the cord every time you dump a bag.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 10:57PM
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I sell mowers at HD - we've gotten more of these Honda's back for the bad brake clutch than any other mower this year (normally we get more Toro's back because we sell a lot more Toro's).

One guy I sold a mower to had the BBC crap out - he exchanged it and the new one crapped out after one use as well. He downgraded to the standard HRR model.

I don't think Honda did their homework on this redesign - I still think the Personal Pace on the Toro's is a far superior design - maybe Honda is just coasting on their name right now.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 12:57AM
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I bought a Honda HRR216VXA today. It worked OK, but the idea of holding your thumbs down for an hour while I mow hurts my thumbs. Who knows, may give me carpel tunnel (SP?).
My wife hates the new drive system, after having the old style Honda for 8 years and enjoying mowing.
The BBC cut out numerous times for her. She wants me to see if we can get our money back the day after we bought it.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 10:38PM
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I will return mower. There is NOT a fix per Honda for the smart drive system.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 9:19AM
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"There is NOT a fix per Honda for the smart drive system"

I was told by Honda that a change to the smart drive system is coming, probably in September, to relieve some of the pressure on the thumbs. I don't know if is just going to relieve some of the force required or a modified control handle so that you can use the palms of your hand to maintain the speed. It would be nice if you could set the speed and not have to maintain a grip on the control.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 6:22PM
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I purchased the HRR216VXA 4 months ago and it's been nothing but a pain to operate. After mowing my thumbs are tired and the roto stop constantly disengages. I took it back to Home Depot and they refused to take it back. I even showed them how the roto stop did not engage anymore. I went back home and opened the roto-stop mechanism up and realized why it did not engage anymore. The part which catches and holds the lever is made of plastic and due to wear and tear, it dulled down to the point where it will not catch anymore. Very very poor design. What I did was drill a hole beside the area where it catches and inserted a screw so the mechanism now catches on the screw's head. worked like a charm. I'm hoping Honda will release a replacement part for this Roto-stop mess. Also looking forward for a smart drive fix. I'm actually thinking about installing a cheap hand brake from an old bike. I think it'll be a lot easier on the hands. Please keep us updated if anyone finds the new fix for this ridiculous excuse for a mower.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 11:51AM
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I just got the VXA & love it. ramdude12 said in this thread there's a recall for the BBC. I called Honda customer service & they said not so. However they will soon be offering an adjustment or replacement part (now in October, instead of September) for those who request it & that it will be covered under warranty.

I've not had earthworm's experience that the self propulsion is "too vague" at first, then takes off. Mine is extremely smooth & responsive, @ either slow or high speeds.

It's powerful, smooth, easy to operate & maneuver & has high quality parts & excellent convenience features (fuel shut-off valve, ball bearing wheels all around, BBC, variable speed motor control,easy access carburetor fuel bowl drain, etc. Plus it mulches the heck out of thick grass! All for only $499 (or less, if you get one used)!

I think some of the problems posted here about the VXA have to do with improper mower setup & adjustment by the seller. I'd say it pays to buy from a Honda dealer. Mine matches the Home Depot price on the VXA & gave me personal attention when I asked questions about its features & pointed out my desires/concerns about its setup.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 12:39AM
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Has anyone been notified by Honda yet on the upgrade to the Smart Drive system. And, has anyone had the adjustment made to the BBC?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 5:59PM
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Had the upgrades done to the BBC and the Smart Drive system: There is more play room on the BBC handlebar from when it engaged to disengaged. The Smart Drive uses a lot less pressure to engage the variable speed drive.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 2:46PM
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how did you get this adjusted? My thumbs are killing me. Who do I contact? Do you have a phone number? How do I register my mower? Thanks in advance!!!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 5:40PM
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I had the BBC replaced for free under the recall. It seems to work fine and the release handle has more free play.

There is a new Smart Drive control which looks the same but it takes less effort to use. The new thumb controller isn't a recall or under warranty, but it costs about $10 and is easy to replace. I don't know what the dealer would charge to replace it. Instructions came with part showing how to replace and adjust the control. There was a date of September 2006 on the instructions so I assume any mower built after that time would have the new part.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 12:13PM
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I received a letter from honda back in december notifying me of the upgrade. I contacted my local honda dealer, where I purchased the mower, they said to bring it in, they had the replacement parts. I waited until February, since there was no rush (live in southeastern PA) to have it done. Contact your honda dealer or if you got it from HD, they will send it out for service. I haven't had a chance to operate it under normal conditions, but just testing it out, it definitely is easier on the thumbs, and the BBC does have more play before disengaging, however, my mower didn't have any problem prior to the upgrade.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 9:51PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

We have just received our first shipment of this model, it was not available in Canada last year. We have sold a couple of them but it has not stopped raining long enough for the test. Will be interesting once we get some feedback.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 10:23PM
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I took my 216 to the local dealer to trade it in on another model. They offered me $200, so all those small problems suddenly became more tolerable. I went ahead and left the mower for the BBC recall fix. I asked about the Smart Drive upgrade, but the guy had no idea about it. Does anyone know the part name or number?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 6:53PM
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the home depot sucks as does honda. why would honda sell something this bad? the bbc is awful. and the managment at the home depot is just as bad. we have had it a year and had several problems with it and several trips to the repair shop all ending in failure. the throttle control vibrates down to a lower speed. the govenor sticks on the mower. the smart drive is a real annoying pain especially if you are like me and have small hands. its my grandpas mower and neither of us want it or are happy with it anymore, nor are we happy with home depot which is useless but not to suprised there. what would you are recommend us do on this piece of junk mower?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2007 at 2:11AM
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Don't buy it.
I made the mistake of reading the reviews after I purchased mine. The bag does not seal properly so dust and clippings come out all over the unit and right in your face.
Luckily I took it back for a full refund. I called Honda prior to taking it back to see if they had any suggestions but they did not care.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 1:33PM
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I've had this lawnmower now for about 2 years ie, 2 grass cutting seasons. The first week I had it, the drive belt kept coming off. I kept putting it back on and it eventually stayed on with no problems. Never did figure out why it kept coming off.
At the start of the second season, the roto-stop lever stopped functioning. I could not keep the blades turning upon release of the lever. So I had to bungie cord the lever in the forward position to keep em' turning. It is more difficult to start now because the blades are engaged all the time. I just ordered the roto stop control assembly for $30.00.
I have also experienced the lack of seals at the bagging connection area.
I haven't experience a great muching mower yet and this one still does not qualify. There are still grass trails occuring. The fancy 2 bladed system does not impress me, just harder to sharpen.
The motor is great. I haven't had any problems at all. I give the motor 5 out of 5 and the rest 2.5 out of 5.
This is an expensive average mower. I expected better for the money. I believe my next mower will be a lawnboy. I thought Honda was a better mower, it isn't. I had the used lawnboy I bought before the Honda for 15 years and it ran flawlessly until it gave up and totally died one day.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 12:06PM
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I am reading the reviews AFTER purchasing a refurbished model at HD like everyone else. It's June of 09. I just used it for the first time. If mine has a "new and improved" smart drive, I shudder to think what it was like prior. I found it really difficult to control the speed. I was constantly lurching forward with it, and no matter what position I put the control, I found it really really uncomfortable to use. I'm returning it tomorrow.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 2:37AM
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earthworm(6 Pennsylvania)

I had the same experience with the Honda... Great engine...lousy mower, without a drive system, the unit would be much better.
I finally bought a Lawn Boy several years ago..
Maybe the best mower I have ever owned.
So guess what..I go to the Toro-Lawn Boy sales place only to discover that Lawn Boy is discontinued !. I'm 69, the LB will be the last mower for me....

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 11:32AM
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Smart drive works great- Still have a 17 yr old LB push mower that runs great but has a hole in exhaust under the housing & is therfore very noisy. Still use it as a 'brushcutter' for monkey grass, wooded areas, etc.
Honda mower starts easily, bags nicely & is very quiet.
Should have replace my LB several years ago, but as stated earlier it still runs.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Web

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 5:09PM
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I am trying to fix my neighbors Honda, and it appears that the thumb drive cable, no matter where the cable adjustment is, will not engage the drive sufficient to turn the rear wheels, unless they are lifted in the air. I have been trying to find a replacement transmission, or instruction on how to fix it, with no luck. below is the most useful link I have found yet.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 3:18PM
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